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Eric McCormack, ‘Will & Grace’ star, says roles should go to best actors, irrespective of sexuality

A scene from episode 110 of “Will & Grace.” Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — Actor Eric McCormack has weighed in on the debate around whether non-LGBT actors should be able to play gay characters.

McCormack, who is straight but is best known for playing gay lawyer Will Truman in the NBC comedy series “Will & Grace,” said in an interview on British television Monday that he still hopes “the best person for the role” would be cast, regardless of their sexuality.

Susanna Reid, a co-host on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” show, asked McCormack what he thought about straight actors playing gay characters.

“That’s a tough one for me, because I didn’t become an actor so that I could play an actor,” said McCormack.

“There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not. It’s part of the gig.”

“And I’ve always said: ‘If gay actors weren’t allowed to play straight actors, Broadway would be over,’” he added.

“So this is what we do. I’d like to think that I represent it well, you know, literally. I came from the theater, and one of my best friends was a gay man.”

“So I think I took their spirit and their message in what was otherwise just a sitcom and, represented it, I hope,” said the Canadian-born actor.

“Good Morning Britain” co-host Ed Balls then asked McCormack whether he felt he would be cast as Will if the show were being made today.

“Well, I guess the answer would be, they’d have to say in the casting room: ‘And you’re gay, right?,’ which I don’t think they can say,” the actor responded.

“So I still think, as you say, it’s hypothetical. I would like to think in general that the best person for the role, the one that comes in and knocks it out of the park, is the one that gets the part.”

Created by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, “Will & Grace” told the story of two co-dependent best friends – interior designer Grace Adler, played by Debra Messing, and McCormack’s lawyer Will – who share an apartment in New York City.

Its depiction of single, urbanites – some gay, some straight – was considered groundbreaking at the time.

The show debuted on NBC in September 1998 and ran until 2006, before returning from 2018 to 2020. In total, there were 246 episodes over 11 seasons.

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